Opening a wine bottle isn't always an easy feat, especially if you're not familiar with the wine opener on hand. What do you do with the foil? Does it matter where you place the tip of the corkscrew? How do you know when to pull? In the Good Housekeeping Institute's Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab, we test all of the coolest gadgets, including wine openers, and have surely opened our fair share of wine bottles. Here's how to use three of the most common types of wine openers: waiter's corkscrews (also known as wine keys), winged corkscrews and electric wine openers; plus, the tips we've learned along the way.
How to Open a Bottle of Wine with a Waiter's Corkscrew
Waiter's corkscrews, also known as wine keys, are our Test Kitchen's preferred way to open a wine bottle. They're slim, portable and relatively inexpensive.
- Carefully release the foil cutter from the base of the corkscrew – it often looks like a serrated bird's beak knife.
- Place the cutting edge on the neck of the wine bottle below the lip. (We like to place ours about 1/2-inch below the lip though some recommend halfway below the top of the lip to get similar results to a foil cutter. Leaving some of the foil intact helps prevent drips when pouring.)
- Firmly, but carefully, press the knife against the bottle and rotate the bottle to cut the foil and form a deep indentation that will allow you to easily pull off the top.
- Tuck away the knife.
- Once the foil is removed, release the corkscrew, a.k.a. the worm, and place its tip in the center of the cork. (The closer to the center of the cork, the better your chances of keeping the cork intact.)
- Hold the wine bottle steady and rotate the corkscrew clockwise into the cork until it's about 3/4 of the way through.
- Lower the lever and place the notch of the hinge onto the lip of the wine bottle. Use it as leverage to lift up the lever and pull upwards to remove the rest of the cork. If your waiter's corkscrew has two notches, use the shorter notch first and then the one below it once you've released more of the cork.
How to Open a Bottle of Wine with a Winged Corkscrew
Winged corkscrews are simple to use. If you have a foil cutter, use it to remove the foil (instructions below) or simply use your hands to twist, loosen and release the whole thing. Avoid using a paring knife or dinner knife because both could easily slip.
- Place the tip of the corkscrew onto the center of the cork and use your hand to stabilize it and the bottle while using your other hand to twist the top of the corkscrew into the cork.
- Once the wings fully lift, use both hands to push down the wings and remove the cork.
How to Open a Bottle of Wine with an Electric Wine Opener
- Ensure your electric corkscrew is charged.
- If it comes with a foil cutter, place the foil cutter on the top of the wine bottle and squeeze it to cut the foil by rotating the cutter or bottle – whichever you prefer.
- Once removed, place the tip of the corkscrew into the center of the cork, hold the bottle with the other and press the wine opener's button to release the corkscrew straight into the cork.
- Some electric corkscrews require you to press the button again to remove the cork from the bottle, while others allow you to simply pull up the whole wine opener with the cork inside.
- Always remember to release the cork from the wine opener to make the next time a smooth process.
In the market for a new wine opener? Take a look at a few of our favorites: